Starting nursery can be just as daunting as going to a new school ...

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At this time of year there is a big focus on going back to school, but it’s not just our older children that are taking big steps into new environments. Leaving your child at nursery for the first time can be just as daunting for many children, not to mention parents not used to leaving their little ones in someone else’s care. It can feel a little overwhelming, but the benefits of a nursery education are so incredibly wide-reaching.

When children make any kind of transition it’s important to recognise that each child brings their own unique set of characteristics and experiences, so any good nursery will be keen to work with you to get to know as much about your child as possible. The more confident a child feels and the higher their self-esteem, the more likely they are to deal well with new situations and to have the confidence to experiment, explore and interact with others.

Developing a sense of trust in the people who care for them is the first important stage of this transitional period, so it’s really important to focus on building good relationships between staff, children and parents. This partnership working is the cornerstone of our work at Eureka! and at all good nurseries, so talk with your nursery team – they’ll have done this many times and will happily address any questions or concerns that you have.

Making friends and socialising with other children is vital for your child’s successful development, but don’t just take our word for it. A seven-year study by Oxford, London and Nottingham Universities tracked the progress of more than 3,000 children, finding that those with the longest exposure to nursery education did best in national tests of reading, writing and mathematics at the age of seven.

We’ve seen the benefits of this developmental step-up time and time again since Eureka! Nursery opened more than a decade ago, and would really encourage eligible families to make use of their free nursery hours. If you’re not sure whether you’re entitled to free nursery places, take a look at the Calderdale Council website which has information about eligibility.

Top tips

Every child is different – some take longer to settle than others, so don’t worry if your child seems to be taking a while. Any good nursery will understand and work with you and your child to help them settle in.

If possible, make arrangements to stay with your child at first. You might only need to do this once or twice, but will really help with the settling in process.

Spending five minutes at the start of your child’s nursery session to share a story or activity can really help too. Your child will see that you are comfortable, relaxed and having fun, then they’ll hopefully follow suit!

Your nursery will identify a name Key Worker who’ll work closely with you and your child. They will be happy to liaise with you regarding individual arrangements to ensure your child settles well. If you have any worries or questions, don’t ever bottle them up - share them with your Key Worker.

Please remember there may be times, even after settling in, when your child is upset at being left. The chances are they will be fine within moments of you leaving, and nursery staff are really experienced at cheering children up, so let them do their job while you get on and do yours!

lYvette Brown is Eureka! Nursery Manager

lFor more info on Eureka! go to www.eureka.org.uk